Politicians love to tout how small businesses are the backbone of the economy. While this might be true (or it might be a sentence with no actual meaning), don’t mistake that with thinking that starting a business is easy. Most new businesses fail within their first year, and even those that don’t are sure to face many pitfalls and hardships.
As a company that works with a lot of new businesses and started a few of our own, we’ve learned a thing or two about the right way and wrong way to start a company. Here are, in no particular order, a few mistakes we see new businesses making all too often.
No Business Plan
Starting a business is a journey, and in the “old days” before smartphones and GPS, you used to have to start any journey with a map and directions. Otherwise, you were bound to get lost. For a new company, your business plan is your map and directions. If you don’t put in the time into planning out your strategy and goals and having a detailed idea of what your company is going to be all about, you’re so much more likely to get lost, or drive your business off a cliff and into a fiery death.
No Market Research
Sometimes when you have a great idea that nobody has ever thought of, it means that inspiration has struck, you’re a true innovator, and you’re about to become a gajillionaire. Congratulations. But sometimes, you only THINK it’s a great idea that nobody has ever thought of. When in reality, dozens of people have had the same idea, tried it, and deemed it to in fact be a bad or flawed idea. You need to find out which kind of idea you have, and the only way to do this is through market research.
Wanting to start a business is all well and good, but you have to be fully aware of the expenses, and make sure you’re going to have the breathing room to get your feet off the ground. Whether it’s through a loan, crowdfunding, investors, or your life savings that you are willing to blow through in spite of better judgment, you need money. And not just some indeterminate pile of cash, but a good, realistic idea of how much money you actually need to get off the ground and accomplish what you need to in order to make the company sustain itself or attract new investors.
Having a great idea for a product or service and building the product or executing that service to the best of your ability is what it’s all about, right? No. Well, yes, but that’s not enough. When starting a business, “if you build it, they will come” is not a valid marketing strategy. You have to make a plan for getting the word out there, not just once, but continuously.
When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a good chance that for some period of time you’ll be doing everything yourself. But don’t mistake this for meaning that you should or have to do everything yourself. As the person with the vision for what the company is and what it needs to be, you’re time is one of your company’s most valuable assets. Hiring the right people, working with the right partners, and delegating the right tasks are going to be a crucial part of whether your business succeeds or fails. Trying to do too much as an individual inevitably means you won’t be doing enough as a team
Need help from a team who has been there and can help you navigate a successful launch and continuing marketing strategy? Contact us today.